If you are considering planning for a vacation outside of the U.S., one of the more important things to keep in mind is whether any health expenses will be covered while traveling abroad. If you have recently signed up for Medicare and are only receiving coverage from Parts A and B, keep in mind that if you experience a medical problem on foreign soil, for the most part, you will have to pay any hospital care expenses completely out of pocket.
There are only three instances in which standard Medicare policies will help cover medical costs occurring outside of the U.S. The first case is when you are in the U.S. when the medical emergency has arisen, and the closest hospital that can properly treat you is on foreign soil. This could account for when traveling in U.S.-owned territory such as Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.
The second example of expanded Medicare coverage outside of the country occurs when specifically traveling through Canada to get back to Alaska or another adjacent state. If a medical emergency takes place on the drive back to the U.S., and the nearest hospital resides in Canada, then Medicare Part A or B can be able to help cover any finances. It is also important to emphasize that coverage is only granted if you were traveling back to the U.S. "without reasonable delay," according to official Medicare regulations.
The last instance is very much in line with the first two, in which if you are living in the U.S. and the closest hospital within proximity to your home is stationed in foreign soil. For example, if you live in upstate New York and the only place to receive medical attention is in Canada, then Medicare can provide financial assistance upon receiving the proper evidence.
The benefits of Medigap while traveling abroad
The most efficient way to make sure you are properly covered while vacationing overseas is through Medigap. One of the main purposes of purchasing a premium for a Medigap policy is to help fill the "gaps" that are left vacant with standard Medicare plans. Usual Medigap policies, including Plans C, D, F, G, M and N will provide you with foreign travel emergency health care coverage.
Once you have met your $250 a year deductible for Medigap, all of the lettered plans will allow you to receive payments of 80 percent toward the medical bills you have sustained while traveling abroad. Although Medigap Plans E, H, I, and J are no longer available for sale, if you purchased one of these policies before June 1, 2010, then you will also receive financial aid for any hospital care endured outside of the U.S.
Remember that Medigap foreign coverage can only help cover expenses for accidents that were sustained within the first 60 days of traveling. Any injury or illnesses suffered afterward will not be taken accounted for. Medigap policies for foreign travel emergency funds also have a lifetime limit of $50,000.